Release Date: June 3rd, 1988
Directed by: George Roy Hill
Written by: Jeffrey Boam
Based on: Funny Farm by Jay Cronley
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Cast: Chevy Chase, Madolyn Smith, Joseph Maher, Jack Gilpin, Brad Sullivan, MacIntyre Dixon, Kevin O’Morrison, Alice Drummond, Mike Starr, Glenn Plummer, Bill Fagerbakke, Kevin Conway
Cornelius Productions, Pan Arts, Warner Bros., 101 Minutes
“Remember, Mrs. Farmer. Whenever you buy a house, whatever’s in the ground belongs to you – whether it’s gold or oil… or Claude Musselman.” – Sheriff Ledbetter
Funny Farm is probably the least zany of Chevy Chase’s ’80s comedies but that doesn’t mean that it’s not entertaining and that it doesn’t maximize the talent of its often times zany star.
Chase, his antics and this kind of wholesome story just come across as more laid back and subtle than his other pictures of the era. This movie kind of slows Chase down and presents him in a way that I’d assume is a lot closer to his real self.
The story is simple and it sees a married couple move to the country in Vermont to work on the things they’re writing. They feel like the slow, country life will help them focus more on their work and each other without innumerable distractions.
There are a lot of good gags regarding a city couple being fishes out of water in a small town and while this taps into overused tropes, none of it feels lazy or redundant. I think that has to do with how well Chase and his onscreen wife Madolyn Smith handle the material. Additionally, they had natural chemistry and their personalities meshed well together.
The movie is populated with a lot of familiar character actors and most of the townsfolk are really entertaining and fun to watch.
Outside of the townsfolk, though, I really liked the bits with the movers, played by Mike Starr and Glenn Plummer, two actors I’ve enjoyed for decades now. I understand from a plot standpoint why they only appear in the first act but it would’ve been cool to see more of them.
Funny Farm is a pretty chill Chevy Chase experience. He’s charming and amusing while Madolyn Smith compliments him quite well. I liked the two of them in this and it’s just a simple movie with a simple message that lets you escape into it for a little while.